Dead Wedding Party Dances On

Wretchard compares the way in which the military and the media approach the analysis of incoming information.

Although the news media functions as the civilian intelligence system, collecting raw data, processing it and distributing it to the public,� for historical reasons it lacks many of the features which professional intelligence systems have evolved over the years: namely a system of grading information byreliability and existence of analytic cell whose function is to follow the
developments and update the results.

Updating would seem to be a logical progression of breaking news, but most of the time, it simply isn’t. The story is allowed to die before all the facts are in. For example – where are the updates on the assassination of the president of Chechnya? This was no minor news story, and it’s less than two weeks old. Have there been arrests? Has there been a stable transition of power?

If the newspapers had an institutionalized tracking cell to evaluate initial reports they would would spotted the tell-tales and asked the reporter to go forward for a better look.
Why was a wedding party in full swing at 02:45 am in the middle of the desert? A glance at the map would show the area in which the wedding took place was 250 kilometers from� “Dr. Salah al-Ani, who works at a hospital in Ramadi,” and who “put the death toll at 45.”� A long way to go for medical treatment or burial when Qusabayah is 50 kilometers away. Under normal circumstances, there are two wounded for every dead. By the normal ratios there should have been at least 90 injured. There was a videotape “showing a truck containing bodies of people who were allegedly killed in the incident. Most of the bodies were wrapped in blankets and other cloths, but the footage showed at least eight uncovered, bloody bodies, several of them children. One of the children was headless.” A video of the dead, but where were the wounded?

More importantly, why aren’t we getting this sort of analysis from our major media organizations? Is this not the journalistic equivalent of operating on a patient in the absence of a medical diagnosis?
Update: May 22CNN reports evidence of a way station for foreign fighters. Fancy that.

Kimmitt said troops did not find anything — such as a wedding tent, gifts, musical instruments, decorations or leftover food — that would indicate a wedding had been held.
Most of the men there were of military age, and there were no elders present to indicate a family event, he said.
What was found, he said, indicated the building was used as a way station for foreign fighters crossing into Iraq from Syria to battle the coalition.
At Saturday’s briefing for reporters in Baghdad, Kimmitt showed photos of what he said were binoculars designed for adjusting artillery fire, battery packs suitable for makeshift bombs, several terrorist training manuals, medical gear, fake ID cards and ID card-making machines, passports and telephone numbers to other countries, including Afghanistan and Sudan.
None of the men killed in the raid carried ID cards or wallets, he said.

It’s Started.

Watch now.
The chatter and concern of the past few weeks about Iraq being too insecure for a July transition of power is going to change.
As the countdown to June 30th begins, and there is no sign that the Bush administration is going to move the deadline, the talking points and the media coverage will shift. “Holding to the deadline” is going to be revised to “running away”. Watch for mention of the deadline to be buried deeply, or even dropped from news reports.
Every attack, every setback, every unexpected event that does not result in a postponement of the transition will be shouted forth as evidence that “Bush is rushing to get out”.
Why? Because confidence in Bush on leading the “war on terror” and finishing the job in Iraq is one of the polling points that consistantly puts him ahead of Kerry. That needs to be undermined. He will be accused of looking for an escape hatch before the Presidential elections – and personified as a weak, calculating coward who has betrayed the helpless Iraqi people to save his political skin.
Indeed, it is already beginning.
There will be more of this. Lots more. Mark my words.

Bad News Is No News?

“the CBC will not only not commission polls … but it also intends to “place limits on the systematic reporting of polls conducted by other media organizations,” covering primarily poll results that constitute a major campaign story.
Its preferred strategy, he said, will be a weekly wrap-up of poll results to illustrate a trend.”

Occam’s Carbuncle ;

Now this is an interesting little fit of journalistic integrity from the network that brought you “Counterspin”. Anybody want to hazard a guess as to what the latest CBC commissioned poll said about the Liberals� election prospects? No, I don’t mean the last one reported.

Air Canada’s Fate: Up In The Air

Canadian Defense Minister David Pratt admitted late Wednesday evening that they military has been caught off guard by the possible failureof last minute negotiations to rescue Air Canada from liquidation.

“Without the agreement of the Canadian Auto Workers, the possibility of the airline ceasing operations is very high. If that happens, there will be a lot of planes stranded up there. We’re going to have to find a way to bring them all down.”

Pratt admits this is problematic, as the aging Sea King helicopters are not equipped to fly at the altitudes of commercial jet liners. If pilots can bring their planes down a few thousand feet before the deadline arrives, the heavy duty helicopters may be able to pull some of the smaller ones in to local airports. A high-ranking defense official admitted that military jets are unsuitable for heavy duty, but was quick to point out that though “military cargo planes don’t generally serve as tow vehicles”, they can be quickly outfitted with rescue equipment “in a pinch”.

“It’s not every day we are called on to pull planes as large as 747’s back down to the ground, but we’ve got the best training in the world. Canadians should not be concerned. We won’t leave anyone up there.”

West Wing

A very good source friend in the provincial government bubbled enthusiastically a few years ago when the West Wing debuted. Why? As a provincial government communications employee, there was a striking similarity between the atmosphere portrayed in the fictionalized Clinton White House, and the workplace at Executive Council at the Saskatchewan legislature.
It was “real”.
So, when I read David Frum’s The Right Man, this passage made me smile a little.

“The television show The West Wing might as well have been set aboard a Klingon starship for all it resembled life inside the Bush White Hosue.

No special reason for posting that today. I was just reminded of it by the West Wing theme music that just came on upstairs. (And, according to Frum, nobody refers to Bush as “POTUS”, either.)

Knife To A Gun Fight

Bayonet Brits kill 35 rebels

Sun: OUTNUMBERED British soldiers killed 35 Iraqi attackers in the Army�s first bayonet charge since the Falklands War 22 years ago.
The fearless Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders stormed rebel positions after being ambushed and pinned down.
Despite being outnumbered five to one, they suffered only three minor wounds in the hand-to-hand fighting near the city of Amara.
The battle erupted after Land Rovers carrying 20 Argylls came under attack on a highway.
After radioing for back-up, they fixed bayonets and charged at 100 rebels using tactics learned in drills.
When the fighting ended bodies lay all over the highway – and more were floating in a nearby river. Nine rebels were captured.
An Army spokesman said: “This was an intense engagement.”

Hat tip – Backcountry Conservative

Freedom $3000 Of Speech

For those who think campaign finance reform in the US was encroachment on freedom of speech…
Get a load of this;

“Furthermore, on balance, the contextual factors favour a deferential approach to Parliament in determining whether such limits are demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. While the right to political expression lies at the core of the guarantee of free expression and warrants a high degree of constitutional protection, there is nevertheless a danger that political advertising may manipulate or oppress the voter. Parliament had to balance the rights and privileges of all the participants in the electoral process.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is from the decision* handed down yesterday by the Supreme Court of Canada., upholding the law that curtails spending during elections by “special interest groups”. The law limits spending to only $3000 per riding.
A decision, by the way, conveniently pushed forward to coincide with the eve of a federal election campaign – which, courtesy of new Liberal government legislation, will be directly funded by taxpayer dollars.
Lucky us.
Kevin Steel says he’s calmed down a little. He does a better job of covering the implications than I could hope to.
I don’t think I’d want to see him angry.
*link updated 2014

This Just In

Globe and Mail;

One in five Canadian adolescents ages 12 to 15 has been drunk at least once, and has tried marijuana, according to a study released yesterday by Statistics Canada.
The study, based on interviews with more than 4,000 youths in that age group, found those most likely to use drugs and alcohol travelled with peers who also did so, had parents who nagged or were inconsistent about rules, and were more likely to be doing poorly in school.
Among those who had been intoxicated, the average age for their first time was a few months past their 13th birthday — around the same age they were most likely to sample their first joint. The likelihood of drinking and marijuana use increased with age; 66 per cent of 15-year-olds in the study reported consuming at least one drink and 38 per cent said they had smoked pot.

Ummmm… yeah. That’s about how I remember it.
Legal drinking age pretty much depended upon how far from your home town you were. I could drink in the Forget bar at 14, in Kisbey at 16 (the bar was across the street from the hall where we had high school dances, and would fill up during the band breaks).

Patrons’ vehicles, outside the Arcola Hotel, summer 2003.
You couldn’t get into the Arcola Hotel pub until you were of legal age, because everybody knew what grade you were in.

Not that it mattered. We had a private stock in the high school yearbook room. We drank lemon gin. Out of A&W root beer mugs.

Through A Soda Straw

It’s refreshing to see this in USAToday. Too often these items don’t get any attention at all.

In May of last year, I was sitting with some fellow officers back in Diwaniyah, Iraq, the offensive successful and the country liberated from Saddam. I received a copy of a March 30 U.S. newspaper on Iraq in an old package that had finally made its way to the front. The stories: horror in Nasariyah, faltering supply lines and demonstrations in Cairo. The mood of the paper was impenetrably gloomy, and predictions of disaster abounded. The offensive was stalled; everyone was running out of supplies; we would be forced to withdraw.
The Arab world was about to ignite into a fireball of rage, and the Middle East was on the verge of collapse. If I had read those stories on March 30, I would have had a tough time either restraining my laughter or, conversely, falling into a funk. I was concerned about the bizarre kaleidoscope image of Iraq presented to the American people by writers viewing the world through a soda straw.
Returning to Iraq this past February, I knew that the Marines had a tremendous opportunity to follow through on our promises to the Iraqi people.
Believing in the mission, many Marines volunteered to return. I again found myself in the division headquarters.
Just weeks ago, I read that the supply lines were cut, ammunition and food were dwindling, the “Sunni Triangle” was exploding, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was leading a widespread Shiite revolt, and the country was nearing civil war.
As I write this, the supply lines are open, there’s plenty of ammunition and food, the Sunni Triangle is back to status quo, and Sadr is marginalized in Najaf. Once again, dire predictions of failure and disaster have been dismissed by American willpower and military professionalism.

hat tip – Dr. Joyner.

Rebel With A Mom

“Mitch” was a guest on John Gormley Live this morning, along with his friend “Steve”.
Mitch is a rebel with political interests “from graffiti to the way we are treated as individuals in the school system and that’s why I’m 22 and never graduated but I’m going to make it in this life … hip hop is all about fighting oppression and if we can’t open our art up and nobody donates space on their walls … and it’s against the government not about the people cutting off the phallus symbols of the economic stranglehold of the US.”
In other words, a “tagger”.

Caller: “I fancy myself an artist too. I’d like to get your phone number and address – can I contact you off air so I can come over to put my art on your house?”
Mitch: “No, because it’s my mom’s house, and I don’t own it.”

Dear Laura

Over at the Shotgun, Laura is frightened.

“This is scary shit. The prison abuses are scary shit. All of the lies are scary shit.”

Well, Laura, you found us out. I confess… there is a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy[tm] and nobody noticed until now. I know this is true, because, well… I’m in it. And now that you’ve found us out, I’ve been given permission to tell you the rest.
Please, sit down.
There never were any weapons of mass destruction. None. Anywhere. We knew that all along – there never was a Halabja. It was filmed in a remote part of Texas hill country.�Mexican illegals, playing dead for the camera. Rumsfeld directed – he shook Saddam’s hand, didn’t he? It was all fake, Laura. Didn’t you notice the flags were waving? Waving, Laura. There’s no atmosphere in northern Iraq.
It’s Vietnam all over again. Tet. My Lai (did you know it’s pronounced “me lie”?) Soldiers raping babies. Quagmire quagmire quagmire. Bush lied. Bush is stupid. Bush is a chimp. An evil mastermind Nazi puppet chimp who engineered the takeover of America by stealing the election. And he’s ours. We hold the strings.
We murdered Vince Foster, just to watch him die. And so we could blame Hillary.
Udday was gunned down by the capitalist forces of globalization. His hands were in the air, his fingers pleading – “Peace”. He knew the cure for cancer, so they couldn’t let him live. There were panties on his head.
Nick Berg is on a secret tropical island, with his Helliburton pension, golfing with Jack Kennedy and sharing peanut butter and bacon sandwiches with Elvis. Yucking it up with Danny Pearl. There’s a greenish glass jar in the entertainment center, beside the big screen TV. Inside, a Roswell alien floats gently, gently, upside down. A pallid little creature bobbing in a lava lamp. Some sick bastard has slapped a decal on it; “Don’t Mess With Texas”.
“Don’t Mess With Texas”, Laura.
It was all about the oil. It’s always about the oil. Japan was about the oil. Vietnam was about the oil. Panama? Oil.
There are alligators in the sewers of New York. I once had a friend who knew someone who had a Doberman who choked on the finger of a burglar. In the fifties there was a engine that got 200 miles to the gallon but Big Oil stole the plans and murdered the inventor. The drug companies created AIDS through genetic engineering to kill the gays. Ronald Reagan told them to. The WTC towers were taken out by Israeli missiles, there never was a Holocaust and the JEWS RULE THE WORLD!!!
So, Laura, there you have it. You’re free to go. You’ve got the truth now – spread the word. Proclaim it far and wide. Write your newspaper. Nobody will believe you, because…
We’re a vast right wing conspiracy.
And we own the media.

Using The UN Scam for Leverage?

Thomas Lifson has his suspicions about what may be going on behind the scenes of UNSCAM.
If true, I suspect it isn’t the first time – there was a rather sudden reversal of position from France, Germany and Russia over their initial refusal to forgive Iraq’s debts a few months ago – despite the warnings of the pundits and political critics who said the exclusion of those countries from bidding on lucrative rebuilding contracts was a self-inflicted foot wound.
Via Instapundit, who as usual, has a great roundup of links

Helprin Is Back

I can say, without any reservation whatsoever, that Mark Helprin is the best fiction writer currently drawing breath.

From Winter’s Tale -“Nothing is random, nor will anything ever be, whether a long string of perfectly blue days that begin and end in golden dimness, the most seemingly chaotic politcal acts, the rise of a great city, the crystalline structure of a gem that has never seen the light, the distributions of fortune, what time the milkman gets up, the position of the electron, or the occurrence of one astonishingly frigid winter after another. Even electrons, supposedly the paragons of unpredictability, are tame and obsequious little creatures that rush around at the speed of light, going precisely where they are supposed to go. They make faint whistling sounds that when apprehended in varying combinations are as pleasant as the wind flying through a forest, and they do exactly as they are told. Of this, one can be certain.”

Few had heard of Helprin before he penned Bob Dole’s senate retirement speech on the eve of his run for the presidency. (I can’t find it online.) Helprin has other writing available, much of it political. His Written On Water series is archived online at the Wall Street Journal.
One unfortunate consequence of reading Helprin, is that it can be extremely frustrating to read other writers in his wake. A Soldier Of The Great War has had that effect on me, and on others. Judging by discussion on email groups, he has an extremely devoted following – (and frustrated – damn you Helprin – write something…) And it’s interesting to watch the reaction of the leftist, anti-war devotees he draws, who safely assume their favorite genius is likeminded. For someone who writes like this

“Only in the lightning and in the foreground is the light active. The woman and the soldier steal the light and color from everything that is in ruin. Unclothed and unprotected, with her baby in her arms, she defies the storm unwittingly. Entirely at risk, she shines out. Don’t you understand? She’s his only hope. After what he’s seen, only she and the child can put the world in balance. And yet the soldier is distant, protected, detached. They always say about the soldier that he’s detached. That’s true, for he’s in the eye of the storm, his heart has been broken, and he doesn’t even know it.”

… couldn’t possibly think like this.
Lots of other good stuffat the traffic jam today.